Shh! I Might Just Be A Gourmet Chef…

I have a theory that I might secretly be a gourmet chef and I just forgot to tell myself. Knowing full well I’m about to forgo my humility, I have to admit my meals have been on point this week.

We start with Wednesday’s lunch, which was a re-creation of Tuesday’s dinner. Ground turkey is an excellent substitute for ground beef in tacos. I cannot taste a difference. All I can say is I can taste awesomeness on a plate. I spiced these bad boys up with chopped zucchini, peppers, mushrooms, and baby spinach. I think next time, I’ll halve the turkey meat and combine it with some black beans.

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For dinner, my meal wasn’t quite as fancy, but it was still what you might call divine. There is nothing wrong with a classic pb&j on wheat, especially when you are working and pair it with some veggie sticks.

Thursday morning, I was up early for a workout, so I scarfed down a peanut butter wrap. Post-workout, I munched on a hard-boiled egg, a cheesestick, and a banana. Almonds and raisins came a little while later to keep me going until lunch.

Lunch turned into this devastatingly beautiful stir fry. The plate is piled high with fresh vegetables, grilled chicken, and some brown rice. But mostly, veggies. I’ve not been digging salads lately, but thankfully, I’m still all about the grilled vegetables, so I can get my fix that way. I stirred everything with a ginger sesame dressing.

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This was an accidental shot that occurs every time I go to take a picture of my meals. It says a lot about what other types of pictures I am taking throughout the day. Usually, I jump a little in surprise- every single time- but I decided to actually take the picture this time because it looks so funny.

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You’re welcome.

My dinner on Thursday night might beat out all the other meals. I cooked salmon for myself for the first time and thanks to a little online searching and some sage advice from friends, I cooked it to perfection. Earlier that morning, I tossed the salmon in a bag of the same ginger sesame dressing, then tossed it onto a pan for 4 minutes on one side and three on the other. Grilled zucchini was an excellent vegetable choice, but oh my, these baked sweet potato fries were so good! They require a bit more work, but I had chopped them into fries the day before, soaked them in cold water over night, dried them off and tossed them in a recipe mixture I will share soon, and baked them for about 20 minutes. So good (and good for you!) I drizzled a little honey barbecue mustard over my salmon, which turned out to be an excellent life choice.

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And to be completely caught up before my BIRTHDAY WEEKEND, for breakfast this morning, I enjoyed a delightful one egg-two egg white omelet (that was supposed to be scrambled and I forgot to scramble in time) with two waffles and blueberries and raspberries.

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I needed something to fuel me through a long, grinding workout! Speaking of workouts, let’s recap those next!

We left off again on Wednesday, which was a run that for the first time in weeks didn’t make my feet numb! Yay! I felt strong throughout and happy just to be outside and moving on a beautiful, strangely warm November morning. I’m still not certain what the issue has been with my feet, but I paid special attention to my posture during my stride, keeping my back straight instead of allowing myself to slouch.

Since studying for my personal training cert, I’ve learned just how important posture really is and I tend to be terrible with it, whether I’m exercising, walking around, or sitting at my desk studying. I’m getting better with it during my workouts, which has helped immensely and is making me stronger.

My workout on Thursday consisted of a series of circuits. In my studying, I’ve been delving deeper into the actual exercises rather than just the sciences behind it, so I’ve been experimenting with my own workouts to get a practical angle in there. I’ve been switching up modalities more during each circuit, using kettle bells, dumbbells, medicine balls, barbells, and body strength to do a medley of things. It keeps my body moving and second-guessing, as well as excited to keep getting through my workout. I finished with a couple of Tabata intervals with ropes- I should learn the actual term for it- and treadmill sprints.

This morning, I started off with some strength training, per usual. I guess my new workouts have been, er, working because my body was tired! I actually had to do fewer sets than I intended for a few of my moves because my forearms were tired in the not so great way. I did end the day with a spin class that I felt a little sluggish when I first started, but ended on a strong and supremely sweaty note. I’ve only been doing spin consistently for a few weeks now, but I can already tell a difference from when I started. Cross-training is so important for the body not to plateau during the exercises that you love, but it also opens you up to a whole new world of exercising!

Now I’m just a day away from my birthday weekend and exciting stuff abounds! Part of that includes taking a little more rest from exercising, though I’m hoping to do a ton of walking and perhaps even fit in a class. Tell you more on Monday!

Weekend Round Up

Happy Monday! It’s a beautiful, hot summer’s day in August and there’s so much to discuss about the weekend. Let’s hop to it!

Before going out to celebrate my cousin’s birthday on Saturday night, I headed out for a muggy and buggy run. It actually wasn’t too bad. I took it slow and made it through my 3.1 mile run without issue. I finished up with two more miles of going between walking and running and fending off all the mosquitoes. Just as I was heading back inside, thunder and lightning filled the sky. It was kinda pretty though.

I finished my workout for the day with a half hour of Yoga that focused a lot on my core and stretching my legs and hips. Yoga always feels best to me post-run because my body is limber and moves a lot easier than going it cold.

My sister Lauren and her husband Nick came by for dinner before heading out to the bar. I chopped up a medley of vegetables, including peppers, zucchini, cherry tomatoes, and summer squash in some olive oil and garlic, while Lauren grilled up some chicken. Rice rounded out the meal nicely.

We had a blast celebrating my cousin Erin on her 21st birthday and I had a bit more to drink than usual, but nothing extreme. I don’t usually like to expend so many calories on alcohol, but from the amount of sweat I lost from my run, I wasn’t too worried about it just for that night.

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There was not a picture taken of me last night where I could shroud my big head.

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On Sunday, I woke up hankering for a big breakfast. I had to work for the majority of the day, so I knew I needed something to fuel me through a workout and a shift. I scrambled up two eggs with chopped peppers, spinach, tomato, and jalapeños (turns out, the seeds are what spices it up). I sprinkled the mixture with some cheese. We didn’t have any traditional toast, so for my carb of choice, I pulled out some waffles. There was very little fruit left over from the week, so I had a third of a banana and a mouthful of blueberries. Good thing for those veggies!

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I had limited time for my workout, so I went through a body strength circuit of the basic and best moves: squats, lunges, kickbacks, dips, calf raises, step ups, push ups, mountain climbers, hip lifts, alternating ankle grabs, sit ups, and Russian twists. I did five sets of ten reps and finished up with a few minutes on the elliptical.

To refuel, I had a tall glass of chocolate milk before heading to work!

After work, I met up with my friends Lauren and Andrea who I haven’t seen in awhile. We went to a taco place and chatted over drinks, a margarita for me and just one, chips and queso, and grilled corn. For my main, I went with the hot dog that sounded great on paper. I make a better hot dog. What matters most is the company however and for that, I was grateful.

Shout out to my brother’s girlfriend, Cait, whose birthday it was on Sunday!

The egg, waffle combination left a good impression on me for this morning’s breakfast! I scrambled up two eggs, sans veggies cus we’re out! I enjoyed half a banana and a large handful of grapes that I found after I took the picture.

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Odd story, those grapes were not in the fridge yesterday because I was looking for them, but they were there today AND a magical banana appeared this morning. I actually did not hide it from Nick this time!

Now it’s time for me to go be a productive lady! A workout and lots of study time are on tap for me. Go have yourself a great day!

Checking In

Yes, I realize I’ve been a bad blogging lady lately, but I’ve been a busy writer. There are only so many hours in the day and the past few weeks, I’ve been working on a couple of exciting creative projects. 

I’m making an effort to check in more often. What’s been going on with you? Remember when it was bitingly cold and snowy? Now it’s bitterly hot. No mare transition seasons as I like to call fall and spring. Just one extreme to another. I won’t complain about the heat, yet, because it’s been lovely outside. Except of course for the allergies and the little black bugs that I think are different than Mosquitos but bite and leave an itch just the same.

I’ve still been exercising and trying to eat healthy. On Friday, I had my personal best in bench pressing: 120 pounds. It was a little scary and a little tough, but an awesome accomplishment!

It’s wedding month, so the countdown is on! I need to be in even more control of my eating the next few weeks as the day grows closer because I want to look my best in those pictures! More to come as it gets closer. Now I have to work on my speech…

Since I’ve been writing more consistently, I’ve found that my mind is swirling with possible stories. It can be difficult to focus on one idea at a time, but I write down anything new and try to focus on the present task. Exciting things are coming together.

Shout out to my cousin Mikey who is graduating from high school today! We celebrated the occasion over the weekend. There are plenty of exciting and inspiring things ahead for you and I’m so happy and proud to know that not only are we cousins, but we’re friends.

Other things I did this weekend? I ran outside on Saturday after the sun went down. It was super hot, so I wasn’t going to be happy out in the blaring sun and I wasn’t going to love it on Sunday in the pouring rain, so I buckled up and got moving Saturday night. I was excited to be done when I woke up on Sunday. I spent most of yesterday watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I watched it for a few seasons when I was younger, but I wanted to go back and rewatch the entire series. Loving it! While I lounged, I did a ton of writing. Rainy Sundays are good for both.

Have a happy Monday everyone!

Weekend Recap

I am not much of an artist. When I’m drawing or painting, I always envision this magnificent masterpiece, but the final product always flops. No matter how many times this has happened, I start off with the hope and am left hopeless. The one thing I am kinda good at drawing is a cat, more of the animated variety. When I was teaching kindergarten, there was quite a frenzy for those cats.

My lack of artistic ability presents itself especially around Easter. Though dyeing eggs takes time and dedication, knowing how long to leave them in the dye to create the perfect hue, it is really the pre-dyeing process that is difficult. Crayons have always been difficult to draw with- colored pencils allow far more accuracy- no matter when used on a rounded surface. This past Friday, I began with the same hopeless optimism.

My first endeavor was to draw an egg with my name on it, which I have mastered over the years, then to drop the egg into pink dye for a long time.

The second egg was in honor of my cousin Erin who was away for the weekend and whose presence needed to be felt in egg form. It was a masterpiece truly.

My third egg, I decided to create Louise from Bob’s Burgers. Let me tell you, it was pretty fantastic. You know I’m not lying because I started the post off mentioning how awful I am at drawing and art. But damn, on the mediocre scale, it was high up there. I was so proud of myself that I set out to snap a picture of it before peeling the egg for my breakfast in the morning. It’s gone.

Now, there were quite a few people at my house during the egg dyeing and they could have easily taken it with innocent intentions, but I was careful to keep an eye on that egg and make sure it was still in my possession. If you were at my house that night and you took eggs, check them before you eat them for the egg that says and has Louise on it. And PLEASE snap a picture for me. I’m devastated.

Moving on, Easter weekend was a nice and relaxing one. Friday night was spent dyeing eggs, enjoying a good meal, a good drink, fun games, and lots of laughter. It’s been a tradition for years in my family to dye these eggs and I’m glad we’ve continued it on into our adulthood. By the time I curled into bed, I had been awake for 22.5 hours. Totally worth it.

I slept in nice and late on Saturday morning and it was glorious. Not having to wake up to an alarm is a precious rarity. When I did get up, I cooked up my favorite peanut butter pancakes. I had forgotten to take an allergy pill the night before, so taking it during the day made me a little sleepy.

Outside, the day was fairly warm and sunny, but quite windy. I still had to wear a hood to protect my sensitive ears, but when the wind wasn’t blowing, the sun felt great. It’s just so nice to be outside again and not seeing a sea of white grimy, dirty snow.For lunch, I threw a quick and delicious salad together with a piece of toast. It was nice and filling and kept me energized through my run later on in the day.

I finally got to run outside again. There is not quite a feeling like running outside in the sun. I threw on a hat, light jacket, and some pants and flew away. I’m in need of a new fanny pack because the band overstretched itself and was falling down. I ended up having to wrap it around my waist twice, which was tight but not uncomfortable. It was a true feat that I didn’t have to stop running as this happened. I ran 3.1, despite the wind blowing even more resistance at me as I was running up hills. For the next two miles, I alternated between running and walking. My knee wasn’t hurting during the workout, but is feeling a little sore now. Something to keep an eye on! I finished up my workout by doing a little stretching and Yoga, which was relaxing and rejuvenating.

My tastebuds were feeling indecisive Saturday night when it came time for dinner. I started with a bowl of raisin bran with half a banana chopped on top. Sweet and satisfying. A little later on, I grilled up a hotdog on a piece of whole wheat toast. With a little ketchup and mustard, it was delicious! On the side, I had a few potato chips, carrots, and celery.

Sunday started off with a breakfast feast. Poached eggs on toast with a sausage, bacon, fruit, and a bite of cinnamon roll. I also dug into the candy that the Easter Bunny left behind. Reese’s eggs are the best, no question.

For easter lunch, we went over to my aunt and uncle’s house for a great meal of ham, potatoes, fresh veggies, and way too many yummy cookies on my part. I remember many Easters being able to sit outside in the warm sun, wearing dresses, and enjoying the spring day, but it was once again windy, which made it cold! I’m going to just go with the fact that Easter is a tad early this year, which is why the weather isn’t cooperating.

Before calling it in for the night, I made my lunch and breakfast for the morning and went on a final walk. Not too warm, not too cold.

Walking Decorations- Christmas Sweater Modeling

We are trying something new around here called Fashion Fridays. Trust me, I know I’m not a fashionista, but I do love clothes, so I thought I might show off a few outfits once in awhile. I can’t promise it as a weekly posting yet, mostly because I’ll probably forget to take a lot of pictures. It sounds a bit self-indulgent actually, but I have a fun one to start?

Dangle a bit of fame in front of people and you can get them to do quite a bit. As promised in my last post, I attempted to get my family to model my mother’s collection of Christmas sweaters at our family dinner/tree decorating festivities and they did.

I set the tone the night before by inquiring about their interest in participating in a favor I had. Because some people are not the best responders when it comes to texting, I also said I took their silence as an affirmative answer, and somehow they all answered quickly.

After dinner, they were slow to rise from the table, but once their assigned sweaters were comfortably worn, it gave them new life. In fact, none of them took theirs off until it was time to leave or go to bed. I suspect the spirit of Christmas graced them through these fluorescent, jingling sweaters and we are all better for it.

Here we have our cutest participator, Mac. He chose the Grinch sweatshirt as the white shown brightly off of his fur, it’s durability allowed him to roll up his sleeves, and the fact that the Grinch has a pet dog himself in the movie. He did not want to take this off and he usually frets over any clothing in which we try to adorn him.

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Next we find this happy couple, my brother Jimmy and his girlfriend Cait. While Cait was an eager model, Jimmy needed some convincing at first. He bypassed the sweater I had preselected for him to choose this far more mild one and put it around his shoulders. College has made him preppier.

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A nicer picture by the still bare Christmas tree.

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Nick, my sister Lauren’s fiancée, didn’t blink an eye as he put on this award winning sweater and joined Jimmy and Cait by the tree.

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As Jimmy and Lauren went to the kitchen to make some hot chocolate, Cait and Nick took a completely candid photo admiring my manger scene.

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Yes, I too took part in the festivities.

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Cait loved the candy cane! And the camera.

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Finally, we’ve found Lauren with her steaming mugs of chocolate.

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I do believe this picture should go on the wedding album.

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My mom, who is Christmas spirit didn’t have to put on a sweater because she was already wearing one! She is also an excellent gift wrapper. Note, I had asked her for a basket the night before and she said she didn’t have one.

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Group shot! Jimmy warmed up to the idea of the sweaters and finally put on the one I had picked for him. The faux fur collar suits him.

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It’s a good thing I have a big head because it would be hard to see me squeezing in the back here.

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It’s always necessary to get a picture around the fireplace, that wasn’t on, and the beautiful mantelpiece, surrounded by decorations.

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I couldn’t end without another solo shot of the golden child himself.

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And an extra, extremely humble final picture of me with my favorite ornament, verifying my proudest moment.

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You’re welcome.

Gobble, Gobble, Gulp: Guide to Holiday Eating

The season for eating has begun. Not only does the colder weather bring a hankering for heavy, comforting dishes stuffed with yummy goodness (like the vat of homemade Mac and cheese I consumed last night), but food is the centerpiece at the holidays we celebrate this time of year.

Gulp. Take a deep breath. This does not have to be stress-inducing.

Food, and eating and enjoying it, not a bad thing, nor should it be seen as a villain. It is simply knowing your limits, listening to your body’s signals, choosing healthy and manageable portions, and maintaining healthy habits during the other days.

Halloween kicked things off with the delectable options of chocolate dangling over my head, but when I reached into the bowl, I chose a few of my favorites, portioned them out over a course of days, and savored what I enjoyed.

Isn’t that the kicker? When we eat eat eat and haven’t even processed what it was we consumed? Holidays are all about celebrating with loved ones and taking the time to appreciate what you have and who you have it with. Food is part of this, but make sure you pay attention to what you’re eating, both from an approach of keeping track and to enjoy. Often, when we really take the time to savor things, we find that a little less hits the spot in a big way.

On Thanksgiving, I try not to pay too much attention to all the calories I’m consuming because I know it’s one day. My go to approach over the past few years has been to start the day with a refreshing, energizing, and filling breakfast before fitting in a strong sweat session. I get myself to the gym to squeeze in some strength conditioning because it burns calories all day long along with short bursts of cardio for the full effect. This could simply be banging out a few sets of body strength moves like lunges, squats, push ups, etc and a few sprints.

After dinner, before I settle myself down onto the couch with a cup of Baileys and coffee, I go out for a long walk with my mom and whoever else wants to join. This eases the digestion process, keeps your juices flowing, and makes that dessert go down easier a little later.

Good

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Foodwise, I enjoy a bite of the delicious appetizers my mom cooks up like the culinary genius she is, but save my heartier appetite for the main course. I am lucky because I happen to like vegetables, but even if you have to smother them in gravy, cranberry sauce, or melted marshmallow, eat em all up! Nothing helps your body process a day of stuffing your face quite like throwing a handful of veggies along with it- and that earlier workout or walk!

Good

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It might help to remember that maintaining a healthy lifestyle is not about dieting. Dieting gives off the thinking that something is temporary. Most people can’t cut carbs, sugar, or meat forever, but see it as a temporary fix to help them lose weight. This reminds me a lot of the thinking behind some of those weight loss programs that provide premade food. It may help you to lose weight initially, but it does nothing to help you learn good habits and how to eat real food. If you cut something that’s your own choice, but please don’t think you have to do it to be healthy.

Diets can end, but dedicating your life to being healthy more often than not is a lifetime commitment that gets easier the longer you do it. Losing weight is hard, maintaining is harder, depending on your initial approach to weight loss. Take it from someone whose worked through that with blood, sweat, and tears. If you see it as a lifestyle, those habits become ingrained and not quite as fear-inducing. Plus, you don’t have to cut out all the goodness!

You also won’t feel as bad if you have a grand day of feasting because you trust your instincts and you choose the things that you really want, rather than waste time, energy, and calories on things you don’t really care about.

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Also very important, which is always important: drink, no chug, WATER. Drink more water friends! Always and every day.

Thanksgiving is often so busy and enjoyable that you don’t even find time to feel guilty. Well, guess what? There’s no need to feel guilty at all! The next day, if those dredges of doubt and self-sabotage course through you, remember it was one day. Sticking to your usual healthy eating and work out plan during the days leading up to and after the holidays will almost make this huge splurge day nonexistent in the scheme of your life.

There’s a reason why we stuff ourselves into oversized Christmas sweaters after Thanksgiving hits, but don’t allow any splurging to derail your confidence or healthy habits. I always remind myself that moderation is key and any day is a new day to start on over, even if it’s at 11:55 at night and you’ve talked yourself out of eating that sleeve of Oreos. That’s progress! Side note, why are Oreos so good? Asking for a friend. For the record, if I reach in for the Oreos, I stick with one and maybe two, not the sleeve.

Christmas necessitates much of the same game plan for Halloween and Thanksgiving. In general, I would just say to enjoy yourselves, appreciate and be thankful for what you have- every day- but take this day to really feel that love from family, friends, and food!

Gobble, gobble my friends. Happy Thanksgiving!

*Note: pictures were found on Google. Thanks for letting me use them if they are yours. Credit where credit is due 🙂